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Thursday, 17 January 2019 Dereel
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Breakfast with Pene
Topic: general, food and drink, animals Link here

Pene Kirk along this morning to go riding with Yvonne; it looks as if this might be a more regular thing. After the (relatively short) ride, Yvonne made her version of Eggs Benedict, with a special sauce mayonnaise instead of the more normal sauce hollandaise. On the other hand, for the first time ever, we ate them on “English” muffins (I suspect that “English” implies an US American background). Pene said that she liked it.


Nikolai: free!
Topic: animals, opinion Link here

While she was here, Pene took a look at Nikolai and decided that the wound had healed enough to be able to take his shirt off. I suspected that he would then remove the (1 cm wide) scab, but that doesn't seem to be serious. Certainly he looked happier enough.


A history of Israeli settlements
Topic: politics, history, opinion Link here

A question on Quora today: “How can anyone educated actually believe this Al Jazeera propaganda history about Israel?”.

OK, that's worth looking at. The “propaganda” was in fact an apparently well-documented overview with the somewhat inflammatory title Israel's settlements: 50 years of land theft explained. And clearly it has to be wrong, because it comes from “anti-semites”, a term that more and more Jewish people, particularly those with extreme views, are applying to anybody who disagrees with them.

So it was here. There were answers were like “The key word is educated. Al Jazeera’s audience is not educated at all”, and “I believe that it starts with a deep seated bias against Jews. There after it helps to be generally ignorant of history, religion, and gullible enough to believe anything that helps reinforce a person's worldview.”. Nothing to back up these claims, no argument refuting the points made in the article, both suggesting belief rather than proof. I wonder how prevalent these views are in Israel.


Transplanting the Hellebores
Topic: gardening Link here

Finally got round to transplanting one of the Hellebores that look so unhappy, into the garden in front of the “library” at the house entrance:


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I wonder if it will survive.


Friday, 18 January 2019 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 18 January 2019
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Answering mobile phones
Topic: health, technology, opinion Link here

Into town today for a six-monthly blood test, forgetting to take my breakfast with me. Yvonne called me on my phone, twice, but I didn't hear it either time,

Why not? It was in my shirt pocket the whole time, and it was set to vibrate. But I had my sunglasses in the pocket too, between phone and chest, and the ring tone is not as loud as it should be. Clearly next time I should put the phone against my chest, and also fix the loudness of my ring tone; in the meantime I've chosen one of the horrible standard tones, which at least gets my attention.


New fridges?
Topic: general, opinion Link here

One of our fridges is getting on my nerves. It's a combined fridge/freezer, and the freezer compartment has open shelves and doesn't have any pull-out baskets, so frequently we have to dig out the entire contents of the shelf to get at anything. And the lack of any kind of barrier at the front means that we can't fill the shelves as much as we wanted to:


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The mesh baskets at the top didn't come with the freezer; we found them in the garage. Previously it looked like this:


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We knew all that when we bought it, of course, so we can only partially blame the manufacturer. But lately it has been running most of the time, and I recently discovered that it was completely ignoring the “digital” settings for the thermostat, and the main reason I bought the thing:


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In fact the measured temperatures in the freezer were round -23°, and round 1° in the fridge compartment. This appears to be a combination of failed thermostat—after only five years!—and a digital display that lies about being a temperature setting mechanism.

In passing, what earthly use is a clock in the fridge? I only noticed it again when I took the photo, and of course the time is wrong.

OK, a new fridge? We could at least sell this one. But what should it look like? In principle the fridge/freezer combination that we bought 20 years ago are still probably the best, and in fact we have bought two new freezers since then. But we don't really need a third freezer or a second fridge: we need a combination.

While in town today, dropped in at The Good Guys and took a look at what they had to offer. It must say something about their web site—which I visit frequently—that in the metal things made a completely different impression. They had a Samsung SRF625BLS unit, a little shop-soiled, that made a reasonable impression:


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The scratch is clearly visible in the photo, but I didn't notice it when I looked at it. The interesting thing about it is the freezer area:


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That's a set of drawers that pull out over each other. I still can't remove them, but at least they're relatively accessible without things falling out of them.

In passing, what's the volume of the combination? Both the Good Guys and Samsung tell me 635 l. But the model number SRF625BLS appears to be trying to tell me 10 l less.

The other thing that the salesperson told me was that it was unusually deep at 95 cm. That proved to be a drop-dead criterion: it would have stuck out of the alcove by 25 cm.

Then there was the LG GF-B590PL, another device whose model number disagrees with the claimed volume of 594 l. It has more visible drawers which are individually accessible:


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But the upper ones, for some reason, aren't closed all the way to the top? Why not? We could fix that, of course, but I'm left wondering why these designs exist at all.

Both of these units—and they're the cheapest—are significantly more expensive than the $1169 we paid for the Westinghouse unit 5 years ago. The Westinghouse has a lower claimed capacity (606 l), and even accounting for that and an average 2% annual rise in consumer prices, we're looking at $2.15 per litre for the Westinghouse, compared to $2.75/l for the Samsung and $3.27/l for the LG. Can't we do better?

Somehow I've decided that Kelvinator/Westinghouse/Electrolux/ (the American brands that Donald Trump wants to export more of) are just not up to international standards. In the meantime I've reset the fridge to 8°/-14° (the highest settings possible), and it's still cooling below 5°/-18°. Digital indeed!


Brexit commemoration coin
Topic: politics, opinion Link here

The British have apparently planned a commemoration coin for Brexit. And of course the current situation has inspired satirists, who have come up with this obverse side:


Failed video
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

Yvonne wanted me to take some video of her today. Just the situation to use my (not so) new microphones. In to look for the myriad bits and pieces.

And I couldn't find one of them, in principle the least difficult to replace: a 3.5 mm male-to-male stereo plug to connect the receiver to my camera. After half an hour of searching, I ran out of easy options and ordered a new one. Possibly it will show up, like a lost lens cap did this morning: I had lost it a month ago after taking photos at the Ballarat Pump Shop. And it was in my handbag all the time.

About the only conclusion from the matter—apart from the fact that it's high time they repaired the pump—is that I should tidy up my office. Who knows what else I might find?


Nikolai licking again
Topic: animals Link here

As feared, Nikolai is licking his wounds again:


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I suppose it'll go by soon now, but I wonder if it was really such a good idea to take his shirt off.


Saturday, 19 January 2019 Dereel Images for 19 January 2019
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Power fail? Computer fail!
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

Woken up this morning by the sound a fan running continuously. Damn, can't Yvonne turn the extractor off when she's finished showering? But no, it proved to be coming from lagoon, Yvonne's computer. It had rebooted round 7:56, and she tells me that there had been a power failure round that time. teevee had also rebooted, but was not making any noise. Both machines seemed to be running normally.

First question: what power failure? Nothing else had reported a failure. The ones that did were on the external UPS. And in the course of the morning it experienced many hiccoughs, causing my office UPS (one of the clients) to beep annoyingly, sometimes more than once a minute. Somehow this UPS was a bad purchase. My guess is that the hiccoughs are caused by mains power fluctuations that don't interest any other consumers, but cause it to interrupt briefly. Maybe there was a particular sequence at 7:53 or so that caused it to interrupt the supply long enough for teevee, lagoon and Yvonne's clock to lose power.

That doesn't explain the fan, of course. How do I stop it? Shut down and reboot? Did that, and the fan started all over again. OK, power down, pull the power plug and wait a while, then try again? That made a difference. It didn't power up again, though it made some kind of a noise through the sound output: click-click every 5 seconds or so.

OK, time for a replacement for lagoon. Took the disk and put it in my only remaining test box, and had almost no issues getting it up and running: I had expected at least some problems with the display card parameters. The only issue was one that I have seen before, that the network card didn't come up in time for the NFS mounts, so I had to retry them in multi-user mode.

So what's the issue with the old lagoon? It's a ThinkCentre M 6073. Any help on the web? Yes, indeed. A Google search thinkcentre loud fan brought a number of hits, some, like this one with specific instructions on how to fix it, even down to the motherboard layout. Only that's a different motherboard, and on mine I couldn't find the CMOS jumper mentioned. OK, tuit queue: for the moment Yvonne has a computer.

As if that wasn't bad enough, got a call from CJ Ellis: he had run into the dreaded corrupted content error bug. Put him off to the afternoon, by which time he had solved it: one of the connectors to his ATA was not seated correctly, and after he put it back in, the problem had gone away.

I wonder what really happened.


Piccola catching birds?
Topic: animals, opinion Link here

Yvonne into the office while I was researching solutions to the ThinkCentre problem, to report that Piccola had caught a sparrow and left it in the laundry.

Had she? In to find this:


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Yes, beyond reasonable doubt a dead sparrow. But it was intact bar a few feathers. Did Piccola kill it? If so, why didn't she eat it?


Girding up Sir Christiane
Topic: animals, photography Link here

Chris Bahlo along this afternoon to go riding in full armour. Yvonne asked me to take some photos of her once she had girded her up. OK, I can do that.

Half an hour later she still hadn't called me. Out to find them still hard at it:

What a time it takes! Finally she was done:


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Olympus autofocus fail
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

I still can't get my Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II to autofocus reliably for video. Most of today's clips were OK, but one was spectacularly bad:

Yes, it's trying to tell me to clean the dust off the lens. But why does it get so completely confused, and what can I do about it? It started off in focus and just wandered off into nirvana. If the upcoming E-M1X model is better, I might even forgive it for its ridiculous size.


More curry tree mites
Topic: gardening, opinion Link here

I've been paying particular attention to mites on my curry tree, and it seems to be paying off: it's looking a lot happier. But today, while drawing the curtains, I saw a tell-tale web on one of the healthy shoots. Out with the fly spray, and discovered that there were many such webs. Here they are after spraying:


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How do I get rid of the bloody things?


Counting FAT bytes
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Took a lot of photos today. The videos accounted for 7.4 GB, an amazing amount for the 15 minutes or so that I took. And while reading in from my 32 GB SD card, I ran an mdir -s to show all files. The summary was interesting:

      474 files       7 204 379 128 bytes
                     14 164 066 304 bytes free

That doesn't add up to 32 GB! But it also doesn't match what I read in:

=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/11) ~/Photos/20190119 716 -> du -sc orig/4*[FV]
...
8870    total

That's 8870 MB for today alone. All those files were on the card, and others besides. What has mdir been smoking?


This page contains (roughly) yesterday's and today's entries. I have a horror of reverse chronological documents, so all my diary entries are chronological. This page normally contains the last two days, but if I fall behind it may contain more. You can find older entries in the archive. Note that I often update a diary entry a day or two after I write it.     Do you have a comment about something I have written? This is a diary, not a “blog”, and there is deliberately no provision for directly adding comments. But I welcome feedback and try to reply to all messages I receive. See the diary overview for more details. If you do send me a message relating to something I have written, please indicate whether you'd prefer me not to mention your name. Otherwise I'll assume that it's OK to do so.


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